Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE) and Memory

Chronic anxiety, fatigue or pain can be the result of neurological response to trauma from Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) getting stuck in body memory. When you are young (pre-age 7 when your memory centre or hippocampus comes online), memory is handled by a deeper brain structure, the limbic system. Procedural memories of feeling sensation are stored there with the associated emotions, sensations and beliefs of a child and may be full of fear, misunderstanding and false information. These ‘body memories’ are unconscious but they still affect your life in myriad ways (3). And the more of these ACEs you have, the worse the effect. 


Three types of adversity that make for a tough childhood.

In 1998 a landmark American study1 looked into why 17,000 people who lost weight often put it back on again; they found a very strong link with childhood experience which was previously unknown. ACE’s are common and include: childhood abuse, abandonment, alcoholism/ drug addiction, incarceration or death of a parent, violence or humiliation and so on. researchers expected very few people to report this but found to their astonishment that over 60% of people reported one or more! And this list did not include more common attachment wounds of birth trauma, bullying, relational difficulties and homophobia or shame.

These experiences landscape your brain for a high stress response causing subsequent chronic illness and difficulties with relationships and success. They have profound consequences for achievement and unconscious behaviour throughout life unless addressed. Check your ACE score to see if you have any.

Thankfully, recent developments in neuroscience have increased our understanding of this process and our ability to heal them. Brain neuroplasticity (the ability of the brain to re-wire) enables us to treat the symptoms by activating the memories via sensory stimulation and then neutralise them with desensitisation (changing the neuronal connections). Techniques that I offer include both physical and psychological therapies like intuitive massage, EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) and EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing – particularly good for trauma). There are many other therapies and approaches but these are the ones that work for me.

Please see my course on ACE and Psychosocial Development  and the importance of Attachment, Attunement and finding the Authentic Self for more information

1 CDC/Kaiser Permanente